Poster: Mr. Television
(see this users gallery)
Hank aired from September until November 2009 on ABC.
Sometimes scaling back is the best way to get ahead. A legendary entrepreneur in the sports retail world, Hank Pryor (Kelsey Grammer) and his wife, Tilly ( Melinda McGraw), had been living the high life in New York City. That was until Hank was forced out of his CEO job and had to downsize and move his family back home to the small town of River Bend, Virginia.
A self-made man, Hank was used to being the boss. But now that he had lost almost everything, was he up for the even bigger challenge of being a husband and father? While Tilly regreted having to leave the glitz of New York City to move back to her hometown, Hank was gung-ho to relaunch his career in the place where it all began for him. Unfortunately this also meant having to spend way too much time with his brother-in-law, Grady ( David Koechner), who delighted in Hank's recent misfortunes. Hank struggled to find common ground with his kids -- offbeat son Henry ( Nathan Gamble), who would rather play with action figures than toss a baseball with his dad, and daughter Maddie( Jordan Hinson), a hip, New York City teen in whose eyes Hank could do no right. But every great businessman knew that the key to success is to turn setbacks into opportunities. It may have taken a while for this corporate giant to figure out how to mingle with the little people -- like his family -- but Hank was up for the challenge, a man who felt he was destined to return to greatness. And he was. It's just not the greatness he imagined.
An Article about Hank
PASADENA, Calif. Kelsey Grammer had better hope that his new ABC sitcom, "Hank," is a success, because he pretty much eliminated the possibility of returning to Fox or going to CBS.
And, of course, no one in their right mind wants to be on NBC these days.
Kelsey essentially blamed the president of Fox Entertainment for the failure of his most recent sitcom. And he made some rather impolitic comments about the chairman of CBS.
It may not have been smart, but it sure was fun to listen to.
The one-time "Frasier" star told TV critics that he thought his 2007-08 sitcom "Back to You" was a "good show." And that he "enjoyed" working with Patricia Heaton "enormously."
"I thought we had a really great chemistry, and I thought we actually were onto something pretty good," Grammer said. "Then Fox hired, what's his name? Reilly?"
Well, yes, that would be Fox Entertainment president Kevin Reilly. Who came aboard after a stint as NBC Entertainment president.
Reilly "actually hadn't bought the show. We had pitched it to him at NBC," Grammer said. "So I had bad feelings about that.
A Review from Variety
(Series -- ABC, Wed. Sept. 30, 8 p.m.)
By BRIAN LOWRY
Filmed in Los Angeles by McMonkey, Grammnet Prods. and Werner Entertainment in association with Warner Bros. Television. Executive producers, Tucker Cawley, Tom Werner, Kelsey Grammer, Mike Clements; producers, Maggie Blanc, Peter Chakos; director, Andrew Weyman; writer, Cawley.
Hank Pryor - Kelsey Grammer
Tilly Pryor - Melinda McGraw
Grady Funk - Dave Koechner
Maddie Pryor - Jordan Hinson
Henry Pryor - Nathan Gamble
Kelsey Grammer occupies center stage in every scene of the "Hank" premiere, which at least tells you the producers (and Grammer is among them) know what their primary asset is. Essentially "Green Acres" updated with a corporate-tycoon-gets-humbling-comeuppance twist that's less timely than it sounds, this multicamera half-hour does little more than provide reasonably pleasant company, while looking and sounding as if it could have been developed when "Cheers" begin its run.
Grammer's Hank Pryor was a sporting-goods CEO who's introduced saying goodbye to his posh Park Avenue digs in Manhattan -- a more understated take on "Goodbye, city life!" -- after the board ousted him. Hank, his wife Tilly (Melinda McGraw) and their two kids -- a hyper young son (Nathan Gamble) and easily riled teenage daughter (Jordan Hinson) -- are moving back to River Bend, Va., hoping to "rise from the ashes where it all began."
In theory, disembarking from the fast track will allow Hank to spend time with his family in a way he previously hadn't. The problem is he's not particularly good at it, yielding another inept sitcom dad, while mom patiently looks on --and, seemingly, withholds sex each time he screws up.
The other elements here include Tilly's brother (the always welcome Dave Koechner, initially under-utilized), who, as Hank notes, relishes the thought of welcoming his once-rich brother-in-law "back to his tax bracket."
Frankly, both of Grammer's post-"Frasier" comedies -- this one and Fox's "Back to You," would have been a better fit on CBS, though the star's prospects at that network probably weren't advanced by his decision to belittle Leslie Moonves during a summer press forum. (Hey, it's not like the CBS CEO would hold a grudge, right?)
Such considerations aside, "Hank" demonstrates Grammer hasn't lost his touch when it comes to wryly delivering a line; it's just that too few of the lines in Tucker Cawley's script are memorably worth delivering. And really, the only thing that distinguishes this from the "Home Improvement" era are a few glancing references to President Obama, since Hank's liberal daughter is a "Yes We Can" fan.
ABC has unabashedly gone for star power in assembling its new comedy block, and probably felt it had taken its one creative gamble with the far better "Modern Family." After that, what's wrong with a little comedic comfort food?
As for Grammer, his 20-year run as Frasier Crane has already secured his place among sitcom greats. While "Hank" doesn't promise to add much cachet to those Hall of Fame credentials, this is a show transparently designed for paychecks, not posterity.
Camera, Donald A. Morgan; production designer, Cabot McMullen; editor, Ron Volk; music, Matter; casting, Nikki Valko, Ken Miller. RUNNING TIME: 30 MIN.
An Interview from Starpulse
Q&A: Kelsey Grammer Talks ABC's New Series 'Hank,' His Health And More
September 28th, 2009 10:00am EDT | Fred Topel
Kelsey Grammer should mean gold for any TV series. His long run on Cheers and Frasier is legendary, and he keeps popping up as Sideshow Bob on The Simpsons. It didn't quite work out for Back to You, but that certainly wasn't his fault. His new show, Hank, could be the next winner in his stable.
Hank is a disgraced Fortune 500 honcho who has to adjust to small town sitcom life. Moving back home with his family provides a culture clash with Grammer clinging to the sort of highbrow luxuries familiar to Frasier Crane. Reality provides the humor.
Over the summer, Grammer presented the new show to the Television Critics Association and spoke about his return to TV after health issues. Hank premieres September 30 on ABC.
Starpulse: We love you as these sophisticated characters. How cultured are you really?
Kelsey Grammer: Not that much. I'm well spoken. That's my trick. I mean, honestly, I probably enjoy the art language more than most people and so that is the distinction in my persona that is probably misinterpreted as a sophistication in terms of language, the English language specifically.
Do you secretly like wrestling then?
Sure. I think that wrestling is great. I secretly like a ton of things. I take great pleasure in almost all endeavor that's about pitting yourself in a situation of impossible odds and succeeding. I love that story, the human struggle. I really think it's fantastic. Even if it's a rigged game sometimes I love the showmanship. I enjoy different things for different reasons, but I love, for instance, sumo wrestling. I think it's fantastic.
How did you bounce back from your health scare?
Actually, really well. As it turns out I was fortunate to survive and then you just start to exercise and watch your diet more and get with it. I've always been a pretty resilient guy and I've certainly been through difficulties before. So you get on track.
Were you excited or concerned about going back to work?
I'm always concerned about going to work now, going back to work now because I've established such a connection with my family that's different than it used to be when I was on Frasier. I started the family then and in the last five years I've spent a lot of time with them. So I find that more precious than I did before so it's important to me. So it's very important that the work not really intrude on that. So it's a weird balancing act again.
How do you feel today?
Great. Physically you mean? Yeah. Fantastic. Honestly, never better.
You look tan. Were you on vacation?
I was just in Hawaii. I was floating in the ocean twelve hours ago.
The same place you were where it happened?
So you're not afraid to go back there?
No, no. I revisit it. I'm all for sort of getting over those things.
Have you made any lifestyle changes since then?
I don't eat salt. That's about it.
Yeah, honestly. I exercise. I always did that anyway.
What are you doing to manage stress levels these days and what advice do you have for others about that?
I'm breathing. That's my big thing. I stopped breathing a while ago and I thought that I better get back to it.
You were also in the Fame remake. Who do you think will be the big breakout out of that?
I don't remember, honestly. I was in and out of that film a lot. So it was like a day of shooting, and then they were very respectful about my schedule and they didn't waste my time. They'd have the shot setup, I'd walk in and say something to somebody and then walk out. It felt like being Fred McMurray.
What do you think of your daughter's hit show Greek?
It's great. I mean, I always knew she'd do well.
Did you have an inkling that she was going to be a successful actress?
Well, she really wanted to be in the business, and I told her to go be an actress first. So she went off to New York. Her stepmother told her the same thing. I'm not sure what her mom said to her. We weren't talking at the time.
But you were encouraging the whole time?
Yeah, sure. I want people to follow their own dreams and figure out their own lives. If she'd had been an astronaut I would've been happy.
We've gotten to ask her what she learned from you. What have you learned from her?
I'm thankful that I was never a teenage girl. That was my chief lesson from my daughter. I have learned that it is gratifying and satisfying to offer a life to someone, a child and to watch them grow up and to see them come to fruition and flourish. It's still a work in progress. She's twenty five years old. She'll probably get mad at me saying that because twenty five is impossible in this town. I'm very proud of her.
What else do you watch on TV?
Television is mostly sports. Football, basketball, baseball. Pretty boring.
What's the last movie that you saw that you liked?
I was at Harry Potter. It broke my heart. I didn't know he died.
With Obama in office what's it like being a conservative in Hollywood right now?
Well, that's always been the same. We're on the outskirts of the Hollywood community because, frankly, it's just more fun to be liberal I guess. Conservatives are a little more measured, a little more studied in what they think is right or wrong. We take a sort of slower approach to coming up with ideas than most people in Hollywood do. I admire that and respect them for it. My thing is a little more different.
What are you the most proud of in your life to this point, and what are you looking forward to accomplishing that you haven't yet?
Oh, I'm proudest of my family. Haven't yet? It's still a work in progress.
What are your thoughts on some of you Frasier and Cheers costars appearing on this new show?
I don't see that as a likelihood. We did a little bit of that on Frasier with Cheers, but I didn't think that it was a great success, honestly. I like the clean break idea. I mean, I'd love to work with David [Hyde Pierce] and John [Mahoney] but whether or not it's really important I don't know.
Is Hank similar to Frasier in going back home and getting shaken up?
The premise really has more to do with the emotional growth of the character, and that's what I find, say, opportunistic in the fact that he has to. He's forced into a situation where he has to grow up. Yes, that was a similar quality in the previous show, Back to You, with Chuck. But it wasn't quite the same thing because he was a lothario. This is a guy who's just been sort of blissfully ignorant about some of the basic tasks of human existence. That's what he's going to learn to do here but basically it's the opportunity to grow up, for a man to actually become a fully realized man.
How golden was Hank's parachute? How much money is he working with now, and what is going to be his need to go work?
We're trying to work on that specifically, but to my mind, Hank sacrificed his parachute to make some other people whole. I mean, we haven't quite figured out what the numbers are exactly and stuff like that, but because he did take the brunt of the responsibility for what went wrong with his company, he took it.
There's a lot of drama in real life about these situations where companies go bankrupt. What do you think comedy brings to the table in that particular area?
Hopefully a good laugh. That's really about it. I mean, listen, probably one of the greatest human characteristics is our ability to laugh at our situation. I think irony is our strong suit. Humans are at their best when things are at their very worst, and I think comedy is a necessary part of that.
What happened with Back to You and were you ready to jump right back in and try again?
We started on Back to You. Good show, Patricia Heaton. I enjoyed her immensely. I thought we had a really great chemistry, and I thought we actually were onto something pretty good. Then FOX hired what's his name, Reilly? Hired Reilly, who actually hadn't bought the show. We had pitched it to him at NBC. So I had bad feelings about that. Then we had the writers' strike. And the writers' strike I really think, well, basically we sort of like preempted the recession for ourselves and got in there six months early. I was very happy about that. We were rehearsing for the real recession. There was very little ability, especially on FOX anyway, to kind of have a sense of continuity about the show and a sense of commitment because that's just kind of the way they work with shows. It's their thing. And we were at sea pretty much once Idol came on. And finally, there was some friction between the guy that never wanted the show in the first place, who was now running FOX, and our writers. And off we went. Then there was a heart attack, and there was the idea that maybe we would toy with the idea of going back to something. But I thought, and I said this to my agent, I said, "Listen, I haven't seen a traditional family show in a long time on television. You know, what happened to them? They're still part of America, I think." So that became the area that I was interested in. I was pitched one other thing about a successful 50-year-old guy that was always trying to score with teenage women and I just thought, "This is really awful." I thought it's bound to be something someone would want to pick up, but I said, "I will not put myself in that show." Then somebody responded to the idea of a family. This fellow came in the room and started talking about it. So I survived a turgid pitch, and I heard the one line that made me think, "That, I can play, and that would be interesting, and it would be fun." And Tucker [Cawley] has a pretty good track record. He's got some funny ideas and a very droll manner. I thought, "That's interesting."
You've played some slightly pompous characters. How do you walk that fine line with this? Is he more clueless than pompous?
I just hope that I can lend myself to the character in the same way I did to Frasier. He has far less equipment in terms of his life. Frasier loved clutter and conflict. This guy is not that comfortable with all that stuff. He is a simpler man. I mean, he made his living in sports basically. He loves sports. He loves competition. He loves the American dream. He loves the idea of somebody working their way up from the bottom, and he loves the idea of making something of his life and of his family and of himself by virtue of the sweat of his brow. There's sort of traditional cliched concepts, but he actually embodies those. So he's far less complicated than maybe some of the pompous people. What might be seen as pompous in this character would really be just the fact that he's out of touch with some things that he's either forgot about. Like the other day I was trying to make a pot of coffee in my house, and I have a particularly complicated coffee maker. I actually had three friends trying to make a pot of coffee with me, and none successfully. I thought it might be a funny thing for Hank because he hasn't made coffee probably for 20 years.
What's Sideshow Bob's latest adventure on The Simpsons?
You know, I'm not really sure. They sent me a script, and honestly, I haven't read it yet but I'm going to be recording it in a couple of weeks.
Would you hope that they do a second movie that would feature Sideshow prominently?
Well, honestly, I was a little upset that he wasn't in the first movie, but it's okay. I thought the first movie was really funny.
Interview by Fred Topel
A Review from The New York Daily News
On ABC's 'Hank', Kelsey Grammer brings same pomp, just new circumstance
Tuesday, September 29th 2009, 4:00 AM
At some point, Kelsey Grammer has to move on.
Or more to the point, the TV biz has to move on, and stop thinking that if we keep dropping the same character into different sitcoms, eventually one will magically blossom into "Frasier."
Fox tried doing that with Grammer last year in "Back to You," which barely lasted a season.
Tonight, ABC tries it with "Hank," and the odds don't look much better.
Grammer's Hank Pryor is a walking balloon, a man so puffed up that he lives to be punctured. He also lives with a family that has an endless supply of pins.
On the plus side, he has a core of fundamental decency that redeems his pomposity and lets us occasionaly glimpse why other decent people care for him.
It's all periodically amusing. But it feels like a rerun for Grammer fans, and it's hard to believe it doesn't feel the same to him.
The hook of the show is that Hank once ran a chain of 170 sporting goods stores, successful enough to give his family the good life in New York.
Then some unspecified thing went wrong, and Hank was fired. Now he is moving his wife, Tilly (Melinda McGraw); their geeky young son, Henry (Nathan Gamble), and their exasperated teenage daughter, Maddie (Jordan Hinson), to start over in Tilly's hometown of River Bend, Va.
As they walk into their new house, which has only a stove in the middle of the living room floor, Maddie says it's like a horror movie, except in horror movies the pretty girl gets to die.
"Look," she says, "even the stove is trying to escape."
Gloating over these misfortunes is Grady (David Koechner), Tilly's brother and the contractor who will be fixing up the house.
Grady doesn't hide his glee that his big-shot brother-in-law has tumbled back into his tax bracket, and the writers arm him with plenty of funny cheap shots.
The Pryors spend the first episode alternately lamenting their fate and bravely vowing to start anew, this time with Hank as a part of the family, instead of some distant ATM who supplies them with worldly goods.
The problem is that very little tomorrow night takes us beyond the routine jokes this setup would suggest. Hank knows nothing of living like an ordinary person. Tilly does, but doesn't want to. Maddie is a teenager. Henry is the most adaptable, bursting with joy when he can report that "I think there's something dead in the backyard."
It's a slight premise, and the odds of it morphing into a fresh, lively weekly adventure feel about the same. Slight.
An Article from the LA Times
Kelsey Grammer gets no thanks for 'Hank'
September 30, 2009 | 11:25 am
While his onetime co-star Patricia Heaton basks in the warm reviews for "The Middle," Kelsey Grammer got the cold shoulder from TV critics for his new sitcom, "Hank." Grammer plays the title character, a corporate exec who loses his job and is forced to move to his wife's small hometown to raise their two children.
"Hank" was faulted by many reviewers for clumsily reworking the "Frasier" formula. "Frasier" is certainly a tough act to follow as Grammer learned two years ago when his workplace comedy with Heaton -- "Back to You" -- failed on Fox.
After all, "Frasier" sits atop the Emmy record book as the scripted show with the most awards at 37, including a record five in a row as best comedy series. During the 11-year run of "Frasier," Grammer won four of his 10 bids for lead actor in a comedy series (1994, 1995, 1998, 2004). But based on the reviews for "Hank," Grammer will be hard-pressed to contend again this year.
Matthew Gilbert of the Boston Globe called "'Hank' a junky sitcom that isn’t old school so much as mold school." As he explains, "Look, I loved Frasier Crane. He was a great character: pompous, ridiculous, fussy, and ultimately - aww - a good guy. For such a snoot-head, he was surprisingly beloved by audiences. But by the end of the 11-season life of 'Frasier,' during which syndicated reruns had been wallpapered all over local channels, I was ready to say goodbye to him for good. But apparently Grammer was not, and once again he has brought back the character, this time named Hank Pryor, for more huffing and puffing."
Hank Stuever of the Washington Post said, "'Hank' is less of a sitcom than a show about sitcom assembly. It belongs in a diagram about sitcoms. Grammer comes to it with that 'Frasier'-like star entitlement, the certainty that success for so many years as that character should translate into success as any character who is sorta like that character."
For Tom Maurstad of the Dallas Morning News, "the main attraction here is Grammer, and there's no one better at playing fussy and oblivious arrogance. But the show has an exceedingly prefabricated feel, a quality highlighted by the incessant laugh track, which serves only to underline how not very funny the jokes are and how fake and forced everything else seems."
And Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle described the show as "a moronic and ghastly effort that suffocates under the cloying and annoying blanket of a laugh track so disturbing it should be destroyed. As should the show. What makes no sense about 'Hank' -- beyond the fact that it even exists -- is that the sitcom is an old-school, multi-camera affair with that intrusive laugh track."
A Review from the Washington Post
TV Preview: Hank Stuever on ABC's 'Hank' With Kelsey Grammer
By Hank Stuever
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
They made two versions of the pilot episode of "Hank," the new ABC sitcom starring Kelsey Grammer, both of which leave unfunny whiffs of doom in their wake. I nevertheless remain clinically fascinated by the show's lameness. Version 1 was released to critics in the early summer and fell flat on its face. This happens. No biggie, you just tweak the cast and the script and the everything-else-about-it and reshoot the pilot with a different studio audience.
So now the barely improved "Hank" debuts Wednesday night, and this new version works so hard to not fall flat on its face that of course it falls flat on its face. I wish ABC would show both versions, back-to-back or even side-by-side, as a lesson on revision, compromise, mediocrity -- a case study in sitcom makeovers. Or maybe as a case study in outdated sitcom formulas.
"Hank" is less of a sitcom than a show about sitcom assembly. It belongs in a diagram about sitcoms. Grammer comes to it with that "Frasier"-like star entitlement, the certainty that success for so many years as that character should translate into success as any character who is sorta like that character. (This idea has already fumbled once, on "Back to You," a Fox sitcom about local news anchors two years ago.) "Hank" is first and foremost a project produced, starring and built around the Grammer brand, and Grammer knows how to play one guy -- Frasier -- who is really just Grammer. Hoping for originality or innovation is sort of beside the point. The only purpose now is to create jobs.
Which is funny (not ha-ha funny, but curious funny) because "Hank's" angle is about surviving unemployment in the dreaded era known as "this economy": Grammer plays Hank Pryor, who found success and riches with his chain of 170 sporting-goods stores, but with the retail downswing he loses control of his business and is booted out by the board of directors.
He has a family, but of course he has been remote and distant to them, until now. Melinda McGraw plays his wife, Tilly. There are two children, a sullen but pretty teenage girl (here come the jokes about how much she uses the cellphone) and a misfit boy (here comes his Yoda accent), and here is the most creepy part: Between Version 1 and Version 2 of "Hank," they recast the children. I had to hunt to even find their names on the Internet anymore, which then made me think of all those children who live with their showbiz moms and dads in apartment complexes in the San Fernando Valley, hoping against hope that this pilot season, their ship will come in.
So Hank and the gang are forced to give up the high life (a Manhattan apartment, a maid named Consuela, private schools) and must now set out for a life of impoverishment and despair in . . . Virginia. "This downturn is an opportunity to find out what we're made of, to emerge stronger, to snatch success from the jaws of failure," Hank tells his family, with Frasier-like enunciation. (Gee, I'd heard that ABC sent "Hank" back to dial down the grandiloquence of Frasier.) When the Pryors get to sunny River Bend, they are horrified by their reduced circumstances. "It's like we're poor now and all we have is our bodies," Tilly purrs to Hank in a moment of rediscovered horniness.
Now, I don't know how close-in to NoVa "Hank" is supposed to take place, but I watch a lot of "House Hunters." Sure, the kitchen needs work, but this four-bedroom shanty the Pryors move to -- with its porch, yard, mature trees and giant living space -- looks like it would list in the mid-$600s, if you ask me. But sitcoms have always been rife with real-estate bargains.
In walks Grady, Hank's obnoxiously lovable brother-in-law, played by David Koechner, bearing a housewarming five-pack of beer. Him you could build a sitcom around, maybe, but that isn't how it's done. "He no doubt wants to welcome us back to his income bracket," Hank deadpans.
"We could go outside," Hank tells his neglected replacement son. "We could throw a baseball."
"At what?" the son asks.
At the television, for starters. Now, I don't build sitcoms for a living, but if you ask me, the first kid did that line funnier than this new kid. And I made the "at the television" joke the first time, too, while writing the fall TV season guide. Hey, if "Hank" can recycle and tweak and muck around, then the critic can, too.
Hank (30 minutes) premieres Wednesday at 8 p.m. on ABC.
A Review from The San Francisco Chronicle
TV review: Grammer's new series is obnoxious
September 30, 2009|By Tim Goodman
Which one of these is not like the others? If you tune into ABC tonight, you should pick up on one of its four freshman sitcoms that stands apart from the rest - and that's not a good thing for Kelsey Grammer.
One week ago ABC launched what is clearly the best new sitcom of the season in "Modern Family," which airs at 9 p.m., and followed that at 9:30 with Courteney Cox's new series, "Cougar Town," which was better than expected and has some potential to build on. The ratings for both were strong, but they had the force of "Dancing With the Stars" as a lead-in.
Tonight ABC unveils two other sitcoms. One of them is Patricia Heaton's latest, "The Middle," which shows signs of not only being funny and kooky but also having the faintest bit of heart, which should go over well with ABC's audience.
The other is Grammer's series, "Hank," a moronic and ghastly effort that suffocates under the cloying and annoying blanket of a laugh track so disturbing it should be destroyed. As should the show. What makes no sense about "Hank" - beyond the fact that it even exists - is that the sitcom is an old-school, multicamera affair with that intrusive laugh track. The three sitcoms that follow it are all single-camera comedies with no laugh track. "Hank" sticks out - and not in a good way. Having it kick off the night makes about as much sense as paying for it in the first place.
Grammer - a pro's pro who deserves far better material than he's given here - can make almost anything funny. That his talent can barely find a pulse in this comedy, about a rich New York executive who loses everything and is forced to bring his whiny family back to his roots in River Bend, Va., says all you need to know. This series is DOA unless you think a kid who declares, "Virginia is awesome! I can't wait to go to the bathroom here" is funnier than when his sister says, "Mom, why does God hate us?" to the sounds of shrill and uproarious laughter.
If God hates anything, it's that laugh track.
Grammer is now 0-for-his-past-2 in finding the right network for his brand of comedy. He failed on Fox (with Heaton as his co-star) in "Back to You," a sitcom that begged to be on CBS (and might still be on the air if that had happened). And now he's on ABC, surrounded by far superior comedies that have a more sophisticated delivery and sensibility. Again, "Hank" is better suited to CBS (but even begging probably wouldn't have made it pick up the show).
Even if "Hank" kills the momentum of ABC's new comedy night, you should at least sample "The Middle" (and "Modern Family" should have a series pass on your recorder).
Heaton joins Neil Flynn (the janitor in "Scrubs") as Frankie and Mike Heck, who live in Indiana and are parents of three quirky kids. She's a car saleswoman (and not a very good one) and he's a foreman at the quarry (days on the job without an accident: zero). Together they try to hold it together as the stresses of two full-time jobs and parenting conspire to make life difficult. You can see how "The Middle" was pitched to ABC - a woman who lives "in the middle of the country" facing down midlife, a harried mom just trying to make it through the crises that are her life. It's traditional sitcom fodder. But what makes "The Middle" a pleasant surprise is that the series itself is eccentric and funny in unexpected ways, not just the kids. "I told you, you can't put wet things in the dryer," Heaton says. But instead of a crashing laugh track, the joke is tossed off in Frankie's frantic governance of the unraveling household.
When teenage son Axl (Charlie McDermott) mouths off, Frankie says to Mike: "If only he had something good like a car or a cell phone we could take away from him." Middle child Sue (the wonderful Eden Sher, who was on "Sons & Daughters" back in 2006 when ABC first tried edgier comedy) is going through a very awkward phase that shows no sign of abating. "Are you disappointed in me?" she asks her parents, because she tries out for everything and never gets it. Says Dad: "Of course I'm disappointed. ... But I love not having to go to the events." And finally there's uber-odd Brick (Atticus Shaffer) the elementary school misfit who was given a cool name in hopes he, too, would be cool. He's not.
And though "The Middle" isn't as cool as, say, "Modern Family" or "Better Off Ted," it has potential. ABC should be given credit for developing funnier shows. Except for "Hank," the obvious accident.
To watch some clips from Hank go to http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=hank%20kelsey%20grammer&search=Search&sa=X&oi=spell&resnum=0&spell=1
To watch the opening credits of Hank go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwxeUElojoM
� Date: Wed August 18, 2010 � Filesize: 83.4kb � Dimensions: 485 x 332 �
Keywords: Kelsey Grammar Melinda McGraw